How do you merge a quarterback who majors in running a classic west coast offense which majors in short completions with a couple of speedy receivers who like to catch the deep ball but want to avoid getting pounded after catching short passes?
One of those receivers gets on the ground when a tackler approaches him after a short catch. The other receiver is bigger but he isn’t fond of the short over the middle passes, either.
The dilemma which I just described is what Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg must figure out before the Eagles play the San Francisco 49ers next weekend.
Michael Vick may be sidelined for an extended period of time, so they won’t be able to rely on the big play as much as they have the last few games.
Reid is going to be forced to find a way to win some games with Kevin Kolb, whom he believed was good enough to take over from McNabb and lead this team to a Super Bowl title.
He also the guy who Reid said he thought would get crucified if he made some mistakes. I don’t know if Reid doubts Kolb’s physical or psychological toughness but he’s got to find a formula which will work now. It’s obvious that when Reid sent Kolb into the game on Sunday, he kept him under wraps.
He didn’t want Kolb to make a mistake, but going forward he must let him take some chances by throwing the ball downfield. It won’t help Reid’s confidence in Kolb that the half of the few times the quarterback threw the ball downfield against the Skins, he had it nearly picked off.
The two big play receivers in this offense, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, contributed four catches for 34 yards against the Skins. I don’t think the Eagles can win with those two major weapons contributing such a small amount.
I’ve pointed out previously that Jackson and Maclin don’t fit Kolb’s style of running the west coast offense. In a perfect design, Kolb should be throwing to receivers with more size and ability to take a hit after catching the ball over the middle.
This was disregarded this off season when everybody was talking about how great it was to have a quarterback finally running the offense the way it’s supposed to be run. Once Vick took over, the offense turned back into the big play unit it was under Donovan McNabb.
How can you run the west coast offense with all of those short throws to a guy like Jackson, who is now getting on the ground when he is approached by a big tackler? Jackson, who is not happy with his contract, seems to have decided that he’s not going to get injured and miss his big pay day, next year.
He was knocked out of the preseason game against the Chiefs and since then he gets on the ground when he catches the ball over the middle.
This isn’t unprecedented because Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce used to get on the ground after catches over the middle when they performed in St. Louis with Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk in the “Greatest Show On Turf” offense. The big difference in that offense and the classic west coast offense is that the west coast majors in short passes.
That Rams offense which was developed by Ernie Zampese and Don Coryell, stresses deep seam routes and was run by Dan Fouts and Troy Aikman. It is now employed by Phillip Rivers in San Diego and Mike Matz in Chicago.
What will Reid and Mornhinweg stress with Kolb, Jackson and Maclin? Will they stress the deep ball or the short pass?
Jackson and Maclin flourish with the deep ball, but Kolb needs to have room to step into his throws or he can’t get enough velocity on the ball deep. It’s going to be harder for Reid to design plays which allow Kolb to get the ball deep to Jackson and Maclin.